The other day, I saw a headline on a blog that read, “Why men are not attracted to their partner.” I thought, really? Let’s put that idea into our heads. However, the author claims this is a common problem that is taboo to discuss. Interestingly, he only focused on men’s lack of attraction to women and not women to men. But I digress. What happens in a relationship for someone, in this case a man,  to see their partner as unattractive?

Unfortunately, attraction in our culture is narrowly defined as skin-deep. It’s all about appearance and looking like someone in those photoshopped pictures from an Instagram account. But focusing on physical perfection is a dangerous activity for anyone. Couples are attracted to each other for many more reasons than physical appearance. Of course, physical attraction helps  and is usually a reason why couples get together in the first place.

But when, over time, you begin to find physical flaws in your partner, a growing dissatisfaction is likely to occur. When this happens, you focus your brain on the negative parts of your partner and make unrealistic comparisons. If you do this over and over, you can develop a feeling of less attraction for your partner.

Now you might say, men are more visual than women so it matters how their partner looks. Of course it does. For both sexes. Men and women want their partners to keep up their appearance and look healthy. However, the growing problem of dissatisfaction is often less about appearance and more about a person’s self-worth.

Self-insecurity can impact a relationship in a number of ways. One of those impacts is to become fixated on your partner’s physical appearance. I’ve heard it over and over in couples’ therapy. “My wife has gained weight and doesn’t look the way she did 15 years ago when we got married.” Now, the fact that she  had three children doesn’t seem to factor into this change equation. Oh, and there is the very real issue of aging which changes all of our bodies. But when I dig into the real issues behind this type of complaint, I often find unmet needs, pain, work problems and a host of things that are feeding a partner’s insecure feelings. Instead of talking to the partner about this, the focus is on the physical body.

And trust me, women do this too, but our focus can take a different path like he doesn’t have a sense of humor, doesn’t intellectually stimulate me, and doesn’t do things with me, etc. Focusing on what your partner does not have or do for you does not end well for either sex. It sows seeds of discontent. If you are  dissatisfied with the relationship, talk about it and/or see a therapist.

Remember that when you married, it was for better or for worse. Now, I am not saying either person should stop caring about their appearance. We should all take care of our bodies. However, if you allow yourself to focus attention on the outward appearance, you are missing the heart issues. What are you really upset about? What needs are not getting met in your life? What is going on with your partner if their health is slipping? What attracted you to this person in the first place? If it was only looks, that wasn’t much to build on in the relationship. There had to be more.

It’s worth asking these questions and then shifting your focus to other attributes of your relationship.  Get in touch with those things and focus on the positives of the relationship even more. Where you direct your mind, it will go. So stop comparing, complaining and looking for imperfections. Affirm the partner you have and work together to stay healthy and in shape.

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